Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Pencil - A Simple Lesson in Economics

Source: Competitive Enterprise Institute
The pencil is a simple "technology" compared to today’s tablet computers and smart phones. It looks easy to make such an uncomplicated tool. After all it's only wood, graphite and rubber, right? Not exactly.

The pencil, although much less complex to operate, takes a "village" to manufacture. The film I, Pencil: The Movie by the Competitive Enterprise Institute is based on a 1958 essay by Leonard E. Read and explains this multifaceted process and the network of people needed.

This animated film is a lesson in economics and collaboration. It's perfect for helping students understand the interdependence in producing manufactured goods in a free market economy and can be used at any grade level. Watching it will change the way they think and open their eyes to the worlds of industry, teamwork and dependency.

This simple presentation on the intricacies of producing a low-tech tool they all use is a perfect segue to introduce economics and promote greater financial literacy. Its straightforward presentation also demonstrates how it takes millions of people working together to produce a good so fundamental to learning, writing and communication.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Connect 4 Learning: NYSCATE 2012

We just finished attending three days at the NYSCATE 2012 Connect 4 Learning conference in Rochester. The New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education (NYSCATE) assembled another stellar roster of speakers covering technology and learning. We met a lot of impressive educators who shared their expertise and resources.

It was great finally to meet in person many of the respected professionals we've admired via Twitter. The Social Media Kiosk offered a welcoming forum (and coffee!) for exchanging ideas. Cheers to @TomWhitby, @JimTiffinJr, @JenLaubscher, and @AdamBellow for their insights and friendly conversation. We are excited to follow the progress of Tom Whitby's #edchat radio broadcasts, with downloadable podcasts and expanding participation. Adam Bellow's keynote and session of web tools also proved why he's a down-to-earth master of his craft.

Source: ASIDE, 2012
The conference offered many subtle touches that encouraged collegiality and partnership during the well-paced days. Appy Hour presented a nicely self-initiated venue for trading favorite iPad tips. Collectable pieces of flair for each person's lanyard also perfectly mimicked the triumph of badging in the progressive classroom.

One clear message from all of the NYSCATE sessions was the relevance of social networks, BYOD, and mobile learning. These practices are no longer "emerging" but rather essential to contemporary learning.

Many thanks to the generous crowd who attended our two Monday sessions: D-LIT: Design, Literacy, Info & Tech and 10 Ways Twitter Makes Us Better Teachers. All of the resources and links highlighted in our workshops are available via the two links. We look forward to tweeting with our new friends and our expanding PLN of collaborators.

Our favorite hour was spent in the jam-packed Cascade room with Carol LaRow, who enlightened us to Google's dynamic special features. With humor and clear enjoyment, Carol opened our eyes to the amazing shortcuts and research options hidden within Google's search portfolio.

Source: Dinosaur BBQ
Finally, if you're ever at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center, watch the ball game at Legends but stroll three blocks for lunch at Dinosaur BBQ. The pulled pork and fried green tomatoes are worth the walk.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Twitter: The Best PD For Educators

Source: Elliott Design
Free, instantaneous and self-directed, social networks like Twitter carry enormous benefits for educators’ professional development. By following national experts and participating in worldwide chats, even skeptical teachers can share lessons, explore theories, and trade resources.

Many simple ways exist for teachers to gain insights into eye-opening concepts, articles, and resources through cooperative technology. Professional development can often be costly, but free social networks empower both educators and students to direct their own learning and internalize best practices from esteemed experts and fellow instructors.

Social networking has become an integral part of most families’ lives, but it has not yet become synonymous with education. As daily leaders in their students’ lives, teachers also need to be technological leaders in tapping into dynamic information streams like Twitter, Pinterest, and others to collect best practices and motivate young learners.

Benefits Of Twitter For Teachers

10 Ways Twitter Has Made Better Teachers
Who Am I? The Ten Types Of Twitter Chat Participants
Teaching With Twitter Visualizations

Twitter Basics

Teaching Teachers To Tweet
Cybraryman's Educational Chats
Twitter - A Necessity For Educators In 2012
3 Tips For Teachers New To Twitter
25 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Twitter
100 Of The Best Twitter Tools For Teachers By Category

Source: Education Week, Greg Kulowiec

Examples Of Twitter Chats

#edchat Archive
#2ndchat Archive
#sschat Archive

Twitter Hashtags

The Teacher's Quick Guide To Educational Twitter Hashtags
Cybraryman's Educational Hashtags
The 2012 A-Z List Of Educational Twitter Hashtags
In Praise Of The Hashtag 

Advanced Twitter

In The Pinterest Of Education
17 Ways To Visualize The Twitter Universe
15 Handy Twitter Tips And Tricks
8 Useful And/Or Fun Twitter Tools
The 20 Best Pinterest Boards About Educational Technology
Twitterize Yourself Into An Infographic
Tweet Topic Explorer

D-LIT: Designing Information With Technology

Get kids juiced about creating and publishing their work from writing their own stories to making motivational posters. Easy tech tools can transform learning. There are many web-based applications that allow educators to set up class accounts with privacy settings that do not require student e-mail addresses. These applications work for teachers, too, to publish resources or to show off what their students are learning.

Source: ASIDE, 2012

Source: ASIDE, 2012

Posts and Examples

D-LIT posts and lesson ideas


Bookemon app
Voki Classroom
ToonDooSpaces - classroom account
Marvel Superheroes
Comic Life
Comic Relief Wikispace
VoiceThread K-12

Other Resources

Big Huge Labs
Visual Poet - app
Snappy Words
Little Bird Tales

Source: ASIDE, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Cornucopia Of Thanksgiving Infographics

Source: Infographic List (detail)
With Thanksgiving as the one true American holiday, it's only fitting to include a post about the many infographics available to engage our students. They're stuffed with enough trivia that there's plenty for a multitude of disciplines.

Since it is one of the biggest travel holidays of the year, there's no shortage of infographics on the topic. Check out Turkey and Travel or Planes, Trains & (Shared) Automobiles. Both can easily be used in math or geography lessons. Don't Get Your Feathers In a Bunch Over Thanksgiving Travel is another that could liven up any lesson. After all, it's not the destination, but the journey, and there are lots to map with kids.

Source: Yummly (detail
Of course, there's always room for financial literacy applications. with Thanksgiving Dinner on a Budget from Yummly. It's good for analyzing the rising cost to celebrate over the last 25 years, or for looking at the actual breakdown of food prices just to set the table. It even provides ways to save money when buying for the holiday. Make room for decimals!

Source: Visual News (detail)
Another one of our favorites from Visual News and Column Five is The First-Timer's Guide to Roasting a Turkey. Use this to prep the kids on proportion, ratio, percentage and more. It's chock-full of ingredients, and kids will gobble up the details.

Speaking of gobbling, even has an infographic, called Let's Talk Turkey, pointing out just how many turkeys you can buy with your discount dental plan. Now there's one for a media literacy lesson.

Source: (detail
While we know football might not be for everyone, it is part of many a Thanksgiving ritual, and it's not without its own infographic. The NFL Thanksgiving will appeal to our sports enthusiasts and no doubt to our classroom athletes or perhaps physical education teachers.

Whatever your taste in infographics, there are plenty to go around, and no doubt we'll have leftovers for another day. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Looking Through the Lens: Play Is the Key

John Seely Brown gave the keynote address on "Cultivating the Entrepreneurial Learner in the 21st Century" at the 2012 Digital Media and Learning Conference. The Global One-Room Schoolhouse animation below captures the highlights from his address. This visualization on the importance of rethinking the approach to teaching and learning needs no further explanation. It is worth every minute, and every legislator, administrator, teacher, and student should make time to watch it.

The Global One-Room Schoolhouse: John Seely Brown (Highlights from his "Entrepreneurial Learner" Keynote at DML2012) from DML Research Hub on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Veterans Day - Infographics About Those Who Serve

Source: US Census Bureau (detail)
Source: US Census Bureau (detail)
Sometimes when we get caught up in the midst of the chaos from the loss of electricity and Internet access, we forget that there are others who faced far more: our veterans of foreign wars. "All I want is a hot shower and a cup of coffee" takes on a new meaning if you fought in deserts, jungles, and mountains. We begin to realize our inconveniences are small in comparison to those who served for months or years in harm's way, defending our nation.

Source: US Census Bureau (detail)
Veterans Day, like Memorial Day, is one of those calendar events during the year when we are off from school as a way to honor those who served our country. Whether it's before or after the holiday, we need to make our students aware of just how important these men and women are and to take the time out of our tight curriculum demands to teach them about what this day means. As with our other calendar posts, using infographics that visualize the facts and data to teach our students makes for simple and effective ways to incorporate the details about Veterans Day into our lessons.

Source: Military Benefits
For the first time in decades, we have record numbers of veterans returning home from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Many are unharmed, but a staggering number are wounded both physically and mentally. Depending on where you live in the country, those numbers can represent whole communities.

All of our students should know that the United States Armed Forces are made up of volunteers who put their lives on the line daily to keep us safe. Make it a point to talk about it in your classrooms.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day - Our Favorite Voting Videos

After months of campaigning and strategizing, the 2012 presidential election has finally arrived. We have been fascinated by the candidates' messaging all through the primary and general election seasons. We've also enjoyed exploring different tools in the classroom to allow students to exercise their voices, before they are old enough to exercise their votes. If you'd like to look at some resources and lessons about "Designing A Candidate," check out these prior posts. For election day itself, here are some of our favorite videos to share with students. These lively, informative clips can make sure everyone is ready to understand the eventual electoral results.

Vote For Somebody! It's Your Civic Duty (from Democracy Prep)


Explain It To Me: Running For President (from CNN Video)


Does Your Vote Count? The Electoral College Explained (from TED-Ed)


Electoral College 101 (from NYTimes OpDocs)


Electing A US President In Plain English (from Common Craft)


Isarithmic History Of The Two-Party Vote (from David B. Sparks)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Making It Personal - Visualizations To Teach Hurricane Sandy

Here in Long Island, New York, we've been hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. We don't have power, heat, gas, or cell service, yet we are grateful for shelter and family. We are especially concerned for our friends who have lost their homes due to flooding, and our hearts go out to the communities in New York, Connecticut, and especially New Jersey that have seen neighborhoods destroyed and loved ones lost.

Source: The Huffington Post
(click for full graphic)
Our school, miraculously, is up and running. Somehow ours is the only school for miles with power, and our students returned yesterday to warm meals and a semblance of normalcy. We've been searching for ways to discuss the storm. The kids have plenty of war stories about transformers exploding and homes ablaze. Many have trees still on their roofs. Here are a few of the resources we've found useful in assessing the impact of Hurricane Sandy. It's also a good moment to remind ourselves of the indomitable, pioneering spirit of everyday heroes.

Finally, if you are in a position to help, please consider donating to the Red Cross to help those in need. Our entire region thanks you.

Visualization Links:

The Web's Best Visualizations Of Hurricane Sandy
Source: LiveScience
(click for full graphic)
The 5 Best Maps And Visualizations Of Frankenstorm Sandy
What Can Twitter Tell Us About Hurricane Sandy Flooding?
A Stunning Map Of Hurricane Sandy's Winds
Google Crisis Map - Hurricane Sandy

Teaching Links:

Teaching Hurricane Sandy: Ideas And Resources
Eight Classroom Resources To Help Teach About Hurricane Sandy
Using Hurricane Sandy As A Teaching Tool

Infographic Links:

Hurricane Sandy Leaves 17 Million People In FEMA Disaster Areas
Timeline Of Hurricane Sandy's Week Of Destruction

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